Conestoga PSWs hit the ground running with simulation
Ontario college integrating more simulation and homecare training into PSW curriculum
Conestoga College has redesigned its entire personal support worker (PSW) program curriculum to include more simulation training. The revamped curriculum includes a special emphasis on caring for seniors in the homecare setting.
Addressing a demographic shift
The move towards the new curricula is in response to major demographic changes in Ontario. Not only is the number of seniors in the Province increasing, but also more and more of Ontario’s seniors are opting to live in the comforts of their home. This demographic shift led to the creation of Ontario’s Seniors Strategy, and has prompted educational institutions like Conestoga to reassess the way PSWs, who are critical to seniors care, are trained.
Dr. Veronique Boscart, the CIHR Schlegel Industrial Research Chair for Colleges in Seniors Care at Conestoga College, is leading Conestoga’s transition to include more simulation-based education for PSW care for seniors.
“Experiential and simulated learning creates excellent opportunities for the students to learn how to provide competent care to seniors and their families,” said Dr. Boscart. “The context of a safe learning environment and the detailed debrief and reflection exercises strengthen the learning, and prepare the students for the real work upon graduation. Students that are prepared in an experiential learning model feel comfortable to provide care and services to seniors in their homes or in residential facilities.”
Simulation helping PSW students transition into the homecare setting
With Conestoga’s new curriculum, PSW students must now complete nine simulated scenarios that are commonly found in the homecare-for-seniors setting. Examples of such scenarios include providing help with bathing, meal preparation and preventing injuries (such as falling).
Simulation training, says Dr. Boscart, gives the learner much-needed confidence and competence before entering the homecare setting.
“The clinical and homecare setting can be very intimidating to PSWs transitioning into the workforce,” said Dr. Boscart. “Conestoga’s rich simulated learning environment helps our students develop their skills in a safe and controlled manner, which helps them improve their confidence before they work with seniors.”
Facility includes simulated onsite apartment suite
Conestoga College’s advanced simulation facilities are used by many of its health profession and first responder programs. To train for the homecare environment, PSW students have access to a simulated onsite apartment suite, which includes a kitchen, living room, bathroom and bedroom.
Feedback is an essential component of Conestoga’s SIM-enhanced PSW curricula. All simulations include debriefing sessions, with students receiving feedback from faculty, video and standardized patients. The students are also part of the feedback process, with non-participating students acting as observers and providing feedback on different aspects of the scenario.
Dr. Boscart says the College’s graduates enjoy high employment rates and that simulation has a lot to do with it. “Employers like to hire people that hit the ground running,” she said.